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Burma/Myanmar, Landmine Monitor Report 2006


Key developments since May 2005: Both the military junta and non-state armed groups have continued to use antipersonnel mines extensively. The Myanmar Army has obtained, and is using an increasing number of antipersonnel mines of the United States M-14 design; manufacture and source of these non-detectable mines—whether foreign or domestic—is unknown. In November 2005, Military Heavy Industries reportedly began recruiting technicians for the production of the next generation of mines and other munitions. The non-state armed group, United Wa State Army, is allegedly producing PMN-type antipersonnel mines at an arms factory formerly belonging to the Burma Communist Party. In October 2005, the military junta made its first public statement on a landmine ban since 1999. There were at least 231 new mine casualties in 2005. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)-France closed its medical assistance program and withdrew from Burma, due to restrictions imposed by the authorities.

Mine Ban Policy

The Union of Myanmar’s ruling military State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. Myanmar was one of 17 countries that abstained from voting on UN General Assembly Resolution (UNGA) 60/80 on 8 December 2005, which called for universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. Myanmar offered an explanation for its abstention in its first public statement on a landmine ban since 1999:

“Myanmar is, in principle, in favor of banning the export, transfer and indiscriminate use of anti-personnel mines.... [M]y delegation respects the position of the States parties to the Convention [Mine Ban Treaty]. At the same time, Myanmar believes that all states have the right to self-defence...as no State would compromise its national security and sovereign interests under any circumstances. But at the same time, we oppose the indiscriminate use of anti-personnel mines which causes death and injury to the innocent people all over the world. These tragedies occur due to the easy availability of landmines. Based on the reality, a total ban would not lead to a practical or effective solution. Given these circumstances, we reiterate our belief that the Conference on Disarmament is the most appropriate forum to deal with the problem of illicit trafficking and indiscriminate use of anti-personnel mines.”[2 ]

Myanmar is a member of the Conference on Disarmament, but has never raised the landmine issue in that forum. It is not a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons or its Amended Protocol II on landmines. Myanmar has only attended one meeting related to the Mine Ban Treaty, the Fifth Meeting of States Parties in Bangkok in September 2003.

In August 2005, the UN’s Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights offered this critique of the SPDC’s approach to landmines: “The Special Rapporteur...is disturbed by reports of the ongoing practice of ‘atrocity demining’ whereby civilians are forced to act as human mine-sweepers by the military, resulting in severe mutilation and sometimes death. It is believed Myanmar continues to produce landmines, with devastating effects. The lack of provision of adequate care and assistance for victims affected by landmines is to be very much regretted. The continued practice of laying landmines in fields and forests, and the lack of mine clearance, has had a negative impact upon the freedom of movement of civilians and their economic right to earn a living.”[3]

Requests for information pertaining to various sections of this report, delivered to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Yangon and Myanmar’s missions abroad, have gone unanswered.[4 ]

The opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), which in February 2006 proposed new steps toward a negotiated settlement on the governance of the country, reaffirmed that it would seek the country’s accession to the Mine Ban Treaty as a matter of national urgency when it can assemble a parliament.[5]

The Democratic Voice of Burma, an external news organization providing television news into the country by satellite, broadcast a program devoted solely to the issue of landmines, including interviews with ICBL Ambassador Jody Williams and the country’s Landmine Monitor researcher, on 31 December 2005 and 1 January 2006.[6 ] This was the first widely disseminated public information on the mine crisis within the country.

The Halt Mine Use in Burma campaign distributed 2,000 copies of the Burmese-language translation of the country report in Landmine Monitor Report 2005.[7 ] Copies of the Landmine Monitor sent to the National League for Democracy were seized by customs in Myanmar.[8 ] In November 2005, Images Asia Productions released the video, Burma’s Hidden Killers: The Casualties of Landmine Warfare.[9]

Production, Transfer and Stockpiling

Myanmar Defense Products Industries, a state enterprise, produces antipersonnel landmines.[10 ] In November 2005, Military Heavy Industries reportedly began recruiting technicians for the production of the next generation of mines and other munitions.[11 ]

Authorities in Myanmar have not offered any information about the types and quantities of antipersonnel mines stockpiled. Landmine Monitor has reported that, in addition to domestic production, Myanmar has obtained and used antipersonnel mines of Chinese, Indian, Italian, Soviet, US and unidentified manufacture.[12 ]

As noted in Landmine Monitor Report 2005, in the past few years, the Myanmar Army has obtained, and is using, an increasing number of mines of the United States’ M-14 design.[13 ] Manufacture and source of these non-detectable mines—whether foreign or domestic—is unknown. Myanmar is not known to have exported antipersonnel mines, but has no formal moratorium or ban in place.


Myanmar’s military forces and non-state armed groups have used landmines consistently throughout the long-running civil war. Mine use continued in 2005 and 2006 in Karen (Kayin), Karenni (Kayah) and Shan states.

In January 2006, the following SPDC forces laid antipersonnel mines in Karen State: Light Infantry Brigade 48 in the Htee Lo area, Light Infantry Brigade 20 in Day Lo Mu Taw village, and Division 66 in Tha Tor.[14 ] On 28 November 2005, SPDC units reportedly raided Hee Daw Kaw village in Toungoo district of Karen state, leaving antipersonnel mines in the area on their departure.[15 ] According to the UN, on 26 November 2005, 900 people fled Thandaung Township, Karen state, following a Myanmar Army attack that included burning civilian dwellings and laying landmines.[16 ] On 3 November 2005, upon leaving a village in Nyaunglebin district they had occupied since late September, SPDC units reportedly left behind at least 15 antipersonnel mines.[17 ]

The Free Burma Rangers (FBR), an evangelical organization offering medical and other assistance to internally displaced people (IDPs) in some conflict areas, have reported numerous mine-laying operations by the Myanmar Army. According to the FBR, in early 2006, the Myanmar Army planted about 2,000 mines in the area east of Baw Ga Le Gyi (Kler Lah), Toungoo district, Karen state. Villagers had been told the Army would be conducting a sweep and placing landmines throughout the area, and were given a deadline of 16 January 2006 to vacate some cultivated areas.[18 ] As of mid-2006, the operation was ongoing.

In May 2006, Human Rights Watch reported that civilians seeking refuge in Thailand have been placed at grave risk by landmines planted by the Myanmar Army along the border in Karen state. It called the offensive, which started there in November 2005, the biggest operation since 1997, and said troops have looted, burned homes and planted antipersonnel mines in civilian areas to terrorize the local population. Human Rights Watch also cited the figure of 2,000 mines laid, saying it was allegedly done to block escape routes and deny the civilian population access to food supplies, commodities and other humanitarian assistance.[19]

The FBR and three other credible sources have reported that since January 2006, there has been an increase in the use of M-14 mines as the Myanmar Army has been systematically placing these mines on the main trails in the mountains in southern Karenni state and northern Karen state.

SPDC forces have reportedly laid mines to prevent access to the site where a small hydro-electric power dam is being or already has been built about 12 miles northeast of Toungoo district at the Sittang river. Farmers have been displaced by the construction and the danger of mines in the area; some mines were alleged to have been laid in populated areas close to Mandalay division near Pyinmana.[20]

Non-State Armed Groups

Many different ethnic and rebel political organizations exist within the country,[21 ]including an estimated 45,000 armed non-state combatants.[22 ] Landmine Monitor has identified at least 17 non-state armed groups (NSAGs) that have used antipersonnel mines in Burma since 1999; some of these have ceased to exist or no longer use mines.

In a 2005 survey on humanitarian protection, members of NSAGs acknowledged that their use of landmines threatened the safety and livelihood of civilians, but maintained that landmines were necessary as a means of self-defense against the military might of the national authorities.[23 ] The Irrawaddy magazine, in September 2005, quoted a Karenni ethnic militia commander as saying, “We know how landmines affect our communities, but what should we do? This is war. We have to fight with the same weapons as the enemy.”[24 ] In November 2005, The Irrawaddy noted, “Lacking vital military resources, Karen rebels have resorted to using landmines to protect what little territory they still control.”[25]

Geneva Call organized a mission in March 2006 on the Thai-Burmese border and met several armed groups to discuss the mine ban; some of them expressed interest.[26]


The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the Karenni Army, the Shan State Army (South) (SSA-S), the Chin National Army (CNA), the United Wa State Army (UWSA), the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army and several other non-state armed groups continued to use antipersonnel mines in 2005 and 2006. Given the conflict situation, it is likely that the KNLA was the NSAG using mines most extensively in this reporting period.

In early 2005, the SSA-S moved into areas of eastern Shan state in which they had not previously operated. According to a reliable local source, the SSA-S laid mines in at least two locations that resulted in civilian casualties. Five people were killed in Jakooni village in February 2005; one Akha woman was killed and one injured in March 2005. In December 2005, a SPDC-affiliated militia fought with the SSA-S over transit through their territory, and the SSA-S laid mines on a road, leading to the loss of two four-wheel drive vehicles belonging to the militia.[27]

A CNA battalion commander told Landmine Monitor that CNA forces use landmines when they go on patrol in the tri-border between India, Bangladesh and Burma. However, he claimed they remove their mines when they leave an area. In cases where they do not have mines, they rig a grenade with a tripwire. He said they spread rumors that they have planted landmines in order to make SPDC soldiers afraid.[28 ]

The UWSA reportedly told villagers in December 2005 and January 2006 that, due to the danger of newly laid mines, they could no longer cross the border from Thailand; the villagers were instructed to go to the Tha Thang Check Point to be escorted on a safe path.[29 ]

On 1 September 2005, a unit of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army reportedly laid landmines around three villages in Belin township, Karen state.[30]

There are unconfirmed reports of mine use by other NSAGs.[31 ] Some NSAGs that previously used mines appear to be spent as a military force, and some have turned to banditry.[32 ] One armed group that formerly used antipersonnel mines, and had signed the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment to renounce mine use or possession in December 2003, ceased military activity in 2004.[33 ] No armed activities by political organizations formerly based along the Bangladesh-Burma border took place in 2005, and it is reported that these entities, as an armed threat, are now defunct.[34]

During talks between the SPDC and the KNU and its armed wing the KNLA in early 2005, the KNU said that SPDC troops could patrol roads without fear of mines.[35 ] However, the talks have not continued and in March 2006, a KNU leader told Landmine Monitor, “The SPDC and the KNU will continue to lay mines, for different reasons. The SPDC will lay mines to contain the KNU while the KNU will do it for the protection against the SPDC. Large areas will become ‘no man’s land.’ Those who can live with SPDC will move to these areas, those who cannot will move to the Thai border.”[36]

In November 2005, Indian rebels based in camps in Myothit, Saya San, Mintha and Minthamee Taung areas of Sagaing division in northwest Burma reportedly laid landmines along the border to prevent attacks by Indian soldiers. The mines have caused casualties among Kuki villagers and their cattle.[37]

NSAG Production, Transfer and Stockpiling

According to a reliable local source, the United Wa State Army is producing mines at an arms factory formerly belonging to the Burma Communist Party, which was set up with assistance from China. The factory reportedly produces a PMN type mine, ammunition, and possibly other items. It is located west of Pahsang at the top of the Kham river.[38 ]

Landmine Monitor has previously reported that the KNLA, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, the Chin National Army and the Karenni Army have built blast and fragmentation mines. Some have also made directional, Claymore-type mines, mines with antihandling fuzes, and booby-traps.[39 ]

Armed groups in Burma have also acquired mines by lifting SPDC-laid mines from the ground, seizing SPDC stocks during attacks, and from the clandestine arms market.[40 ] Some of the opposition organizations that have non-hostility pacts with the SPDC still possess antipersonnel landmines.[41]

Landmine and ERW Problem

Landmines in Burma are concentrated mainly on its borders with Thailand, Bangladesh and India, and in eastern parts of the country marked by decades-old struggles by ethnic minorities for autonomy.[42 ] At least nine out of 14 states and divisions in Burma suffer from some mine contamination, primarily antipersonnel mines.[43 ] Burma is also affected by explosive remnants of war (ERW), and some casualties have resulted.[44]

The borders with Thailand and Bangladesh are extensively mined; the border with India has some mined locations adjacent to Mizoram and Manipur states.[45 ] In Chin state on the border between India and Burma, parts of Thangzang township are reported to be extensively affected, particularly near Dawn village, and in Than Tlang township, mines laid along the Tio river have led local inhabitants to abandon farmland.[46 ]

The tri-border area between India, Burma and Bangladesh is reported to be extensively mined. The former Chin National Front/Army headquarters, Camp Victoria, was based in the tri-border area, and both Indian forces and the CNF say that the area surrounding the camp remains heavily mined. The adjacent area of Palehwa, in Chin state is mined, and mine casualties have occurred in both military and insurgent forces.[47]

UN assistance programs started encountering mine-affected communities during 2004 and early 2005 as the scope and reach of their assistance increased. In February 2005, UN field staff reported the presence of mines in eastern Shan state around Kalaw, the area from Mong Pan to Mongton, and east of Lashio.[48 ] In areas which the SPDC does not control, mine contamination may be found near gem mining sites or on land earmarked for infrastructure projects such as the Baluchaung (Lawpita) hydroelectric power station in central Karenni state. In some border areas proposed development has been impossible due to mine contamination.[49 ] In May 2006, a mine explosion near the border with Thailand injured an Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand geologist working on a feasibility study for the proposed Hutgyi dam on the Salween River.[50 ]

Over the past five years in northern and central Karen (Kayin) state, more roads have been built into areas of previous insurgent activity involving ethnic minorities. These roads are heavily garrisoned and patrolled by the SPDC and frequently mined along the berm (roadside) to prevent unauthorized movement by the population.[51 ] The Sor Hta road from Kyaut Kyi to Sor Hta on the Salween river bank, and the Papun-Kor Pu-Kyaut Nyat road in particular are reportedly mined on the berm, causing civilian casualties.[52]

In 2005-2006, renewed mine-laying by the Myanmar Army in Karen state, in village-areas, but also along the Thai border and approach-routes, added to the existing mine-threat. Reportedly, the purpose was to deter movement of local people. Here and in other parts of Burma, people can only move at great risk.[53 ] In May 2006, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that in the previous three months some 2,000 refugees have fled “renewed conflict and human rights abuses in Kayin state...to find refuge in” northern Thailand. UNHCR added: “Many are very weak and suffering from illnesses such as malaria after a long, dangerous journey to the camps through heavily land-mined areas.”[54 ]

In a 2005 survey of IDPs, which included some people hiding from the Army, nine percent of respondents listed proximity to landmines as a prevalent threat (compared to 16 percent fearing armed conflict).[55 ] More than six percent of all respondents (and 23 percent of those in hiding) indicated that they had laid landmines to protect themselves.[56]

Mine Clearance

No humanitarian mine clearance programs exist in Burma. Some sporadic military clearance and village demining has been reported in previous years, but not in the current reporting period.[57 ]

Atrocity Demining

Ethnic minorities have frequently reported being forced by the Myanmar Army to clear mines. The International Labor Organization (ILO) in a mid-2005 report noted with concern the number of people taken into forced labor, particularly by the military, who have suffered “mutilations and violent deaths occurring during mine-clearing operations.”[58 ] On 5 February 2005, Light Infantry Brigade 439 is alleged to have conscripted two villagers to walk ahead to clear any mines with their bodies on the Toungoo-Mawchi road. Another brigade operating further south on the same road allegedly conscripted villagers to carry loads ahead of them to clear mines on the road between Kaw Thay Der and Busakee, resulting in one 15-year-old casualty.[59 ]

In mid-November 2005 military authorities ordered labor from 20 villages on the Sittaung River plains to clear forest growth from both sides of a road between Shwegyin and Kyauk Kyi in Karen state. This 50 kilometer section of road was known to have mines placed along its berms by both the SPDC and KNLA in the past. To avoid the landmine hazard associated with clearing the brush, many of the villagers fled their homes.[60 ]

In three films released in 2005, former porters described how they were forced to clear mines for the army.[61 ] A report by the Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) in March 2005 alleged that SPDC patrols required members of the People’s Militia (Pyitthu Sit) to “guide” them in areas suspected of being mined by the KNLA. It also reported that the army asked villagers along the Kler Lah-Bu Sah road to clear the edges of the road and to harvest vegetables and wood from surrounding shrubbery, despite the presence of landmines in the area.[62 ]

Risk Reduction

Marking and/or fencing of mined areas is rare. In southern Karenni (Kayah) state, near Mawchi, villagers reported that mined areas are not normally marked or fenced but local inhabitants occasionally place traditional warning signs to indicate danger areas. These may include a cross cut into a tree or parts of a mine and wires placed in the vicinity of suspect areas. A specific style of woven bamboo fencing painted white and surrounding an area of land may mark a minefield, particularly near military installations and such locations as bridges.[63 ]

In some instances, army units have issued verbal and written warnings to villagers living near areas where they have laid mines. Most armed groups claim to issue verbal warnings of the areas they mine. A Chin National Front member claims they mark their mines carefully, but did not state how and said that he does not worry since their mines are battery operated and last only for three months.[64]

The 2005 survey of IDPs revealed that six out of every seven households in eastern Burma had never seen warning signs for minefields. Half the respondents stated they had received verbal but unspecific warnings from combatants about the general location of mined areas: “Whoever plants the landmines, nobody tells us where or marks the area.”[65]

Few mine risk education (MRE) activities are known to have taken place in Burma during 2005. MRE trainings of trainers were conducted by the Shanti Sena NGO during the reporting period in KNU-accessed areas of Karen state.[66 ]

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) report for 2005 states, “cooperation on MRE begun with the National Society... [which] agreed to integrate MRE briefings into community-based first-aid training sessions; and first-aid courses held for National Society trainers in Kayin and Kayah states, two areas with high prevalence of mine incidents.” Educational materials conveying safety messages were prepared.[67 ] However, in November 2005, an ICRC official informed Landmine Monitor that ICRC had decided not to continue with a dedicated MRE staff in Burma after mid-2005, since conditions were not suitable for launching an MRE program.[68 ] Handicap International (HI), Mines Advisory Group, DanChurchAid and Norwegian People’s Aid have previously undertaken informal exploratory activities to assess the needs and possibilities for MRE in Burma.[69 ]

In this reporting period, MRE programs continued for Burmese refugees in internationally supported camps in Thailand.

Landmine Casualties

In 2005, Landmine Monitor analysis of media reports, information from hospitals, and confidential sources identified at least 231 new landmine casualties, including at least five killed (including two women) and 225 injured, with one unknown. Landmine Monitor received information on 112 casualties from hospitals and NGOs, 70 from anonymous sources, and recorded 49 casualties through media analysis. Military personnel reportedly accounted for up to 70 casualties;[70 ]at least one child was reportedly involved in atrocity demining (whether he was injured or killed is unknown).[71 ] This represents a significant increase from the 132 casualties reported in 2004,[72 ]but due to the lack of any systematic data collection system and reluctance by operators to share this kind of information for security reasons the scope of the problem is likely not to be represented accurately.

The ICRC War Wounded program, which assists people injured by conflict, received 64 new mine casualties in 2005.[73 ] Twenty-three mine victims were treated at Mae Sot General Hospital in Thailand. The Mae Tao Clinic, in Mae Sot, sent 14 mine casualties for treatment.[74 ] Srisangwal Hospital in Mae Hong Son division assisted eight people from Burma who were injured by landmines.[75 ]

According to one doctor in Mone, Bago division, 14 people suffered landmine injuries and sought treatment at the hospital in 2005, and 18 by May 2006.[76 ] HI’s Burmese Border Program reported 46 new mine casualties had crossed the border and sought medical care in 2005.[77]

In other reports, one person was injured in January 2005, while fleeing from a military offensive with other members of his village in Dooplaya district of Karen state. He survived and was transported to Mae Sot hospital in Thailand for treatment.[78 ] In March, one person was injured in Toungoo district while crossing a road.[79 ] Also in March, one person was killed and one injured when their vehicle hit a mine near Loikaw, the capital of Karenni state.[80 ] In April, an assault on the SSA-S base at Doi Tailuang led to 70 or more combatant casualties by landmines.[81 ]In August, two people were killed by landmines in different areas of Nyaunglebin district following an operation by SPDC units; one died instantly, the other died five days later.[82 ] In November 2005, a 75-year-old man was injured when he returned to his village after a SPDC raid there.[83 ] On 9 November a woman died after stepping on a landmine between Myo Thit and Tamu in Chin state. Also in November, another woman lost a leg and later died. Villagers have lost domestic animals to mines laid in the area.[84]

In 2005, no mine casualties were reported in media controlled by the military junta, and few reports of landmine victims appeared in the news in Thailand despite the fact that many mine victims still seek medical care in the country. A reporter for a Thai national newspaper explained, “When a person crossing the border into Thailand steps on a mine, it is not news―it is normal.”[85 ]

Casualties continued to be reported in 2006, with at least 51 mine casualties as of 15 May (two killed and at least 48 injured), including three SPDC soldiers injured on 14 February.[86 ] Mae Tao Clinic received five new landmine casualties from January to April 2006; four were referred to Mae Sot hospital.[87 ] On 29 January, a villager from Hta Yeh Plo was injured by a landmine.[88 ] A pastor visiting the border area reported 17 new mine casualties in Toungoo hospital.[89 ] A Karen relief worker/cameraman for the Free Burma Rangers was killed by a landmine in Muthraw district, Karen state, on 4 May.[90 ] Other examples of recent casualties near Mone, Bago division, include a 45-year-old father of six who was injured on 9 May by a landmine in an area he had been to many times previously. On 13 May, a 24-year-old man was injured while crossing the road one kilometer from his village. A doctor at the hospital where the man received treatment stated that from January to mid-May 2006, the hospital had treated 18 mine casualties.[91 ] Also on 13 May, a man carrying what was believed to be an antivehicle mine in a backpack was killed when the device exploded, in what officials have said was a failed attempt to attack an approaching military convoy about 160 kilometers north of Yangon.[92 ] In 2006, two incidents of mine casualties were reported in the junta-controlled press: the incidents occurred on 25 and 26 April, northeast of Yangon, with three people injured.[93 ]

On 3 May at the Salween dam construction site, a Thai national was injured when he stepped on a landmine at a campsite for workers while conducting a feasibility study.[94]

There is no official data in Myanmar on the total number of mine incidents and casualties in recent years, although reports from NGOs indicate that casualties have been increasing. Approximately 70 percenty of the amputees receiving prosthetics through internationally assisted programs are mine survivors.[95 ] The Ministry of Health does not separate mine injuries from other trauma injuries, describing only “injuries, specified and unspecified and multiple body regions” as the fifth leading cause of mortality and third most common cause of injuries. Systematic collection of data remains difficult, especially in relation to those killed rather than injured in an incident. Areas where landmines have been laid extensively often continue to experience armed conflict. Some areas formerly affected by conflict are more accessible, leading to some attempts at agriculture which has resulted in an increase in injuries.[96 ]

Survivor Assistance

Survivor assistance within Burma continues to be marginal due to many years of neglect of the civilian medical system.[97 ] According to limited interviews with landmine survivors within Burma, military survivors receive better treatment than civilians, and are more likely to have post-injury employment opportunities.

Availability of medical care depends on where the mine incident occurs. Survivor assistance for mine casualties comes from several sources, including the public health system, sources within zones of conflict, and neighboring states.

Physical rehabilitation and prosthetics are available to mine survivors through the national rehabilitation centers. ICRC supports seven centers: three under the Ministry of Health―National Rehabilitation Hospital (Yangon), General Hospital (Mandalay) and Leprosy Hospital (Yenanthar); three under the Ministry of Defense―in Yangon, the Defense Services Rehabilitation Hospital, Pyin Oo Lwin No (1) Military Hospital and, since 2005, Aungban No (2) Military Hospital; and, the Hpa-an Orthopedic Rehabilitation Center, which is a joint ICRC/Myanmar Red Cross program. In 2005, these centers provided physical rehabilitation for more than 3,612 people, produced 2,181 prostheses (1,527 for mine survivors) and 193 orthoses (eight for mine survivors), and distributed 1,272 crutches. The Myanmar Red Cross Outreach Prosthetic Program assisted 800 persons with disabilities in remote areas. ICRC continued sponsorship of three technicians to the Cambodia School of Prosthetics and Orthotics for Category II certification; the technicians were scheduled to graduate in 2006.[98 ]

The ICRC continued to support the hospitals it had previously rehabilitated, and rehabilitated five more health facilities with inpatient services in Kayin and Shan states and covered the surgery costs for 12 war wounded patients. During two visits, the ICRC’s chief surgeon organized war-surgery seminars for 90 military and civilian surgeons, with emphasis on amputation techniques, and gave presentations on war surgery at an annual military medical conference. He also operated on injured patients alongside Myanmarese surgeons and gave lectures to medical staff. After his visits, the ICRC donated surgical and amputation instruments to two of the hospitals in which he had worked.[99]

In December 2005, MSF-France announced its withdrawal from Burma, ceasing its assistance to conflict-affected communities, due to restrictions imposed by the authorities.[100 ] It used mobile healthcare teams and clinic upgrades to provide assistance in the previously restricted areas of Mon and Karen states.[101]

The KNU hospital at Gho Kay provided 21 prostheses through the Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People’s prosthetics program. The oldest person fitted was 63 and the youngest 16; one was female and the rest male; three-quarters of patients were from Mu Traw district of Karen state. Technicians traveled to villages to measure amputees, returned to the hospital to make the limb, and then delivered the prostheses to the amputee for fitting and adjustment.[102]

There are no known psychosocial support programs in Myanmar.

Vocational training for people with disabilities is provided by the Ministry for Social Welfare, international and local NGOs. In Yangon, the Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR-J) provides vocational training in tailoring and hairstyling. In 2005, 86 people with a disability graduated from its vocational training center; 19 were mine survivors. From January to March 2006, 28 new candidates were enrolled; four were landmine survivors. In the past five years, disabled people from all 14 states and divisions have attended, the majority discovering the program through newspaper ads.[103 ]

The Ministry for Social Welfare runs the Adult Disabled School in Yangon, which offers vocational training, including TV repair, tailoring, barbering and computer skills. Most of the disabled attending are former soldiers, the majority believed to be landmine survivors. The school takes about 100 students per year, though generally the authorities have provided inadequate funds for schools and programs for the disabled.[104]

The Myanmar Council of Churches conducts between four and six vocational training programs per year for disabled people. These workshops are mobile, and are held in different states and divisions to increase their reach. Some of the disabled who have attended their workshops are landmine survivors.[105]

The World Health Organization Disability and Rehabilitation Program Team is also active in Burma, and works to enhance the quality of living and equal opportunities for people with disabilities.[106]

Backpack Health Worker teams run an independent medical service from Thailand into rebel-controlled areas of Burma―Mon, Karen, Karenni and Shan states―to provide public health education and emergency care, including amputation for mine casualties.[107 ] Some receive medical training from the International Rescue Comittee.[108 ] As of April 2006, six of the 120 health workers active with the Backpack Health Worker teams had died on mission.[109]

Landmine survivors from Burma seeking assistance in Thailand receive medical care at hospitals in refugee camps and public district hospitals in the Thai-Burma border provinces, including Tak, Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son, Mae Sariang, Kanchanaburi and Ratchaburi. The Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot, MSF, International Rescue Committee, American Refugee Committee, Aide Médicale International and Malteser International-Germany, have all provided emergency medical referral in Thailand to war injury survivors who arrive across the border. Prosthetics and rehabilitation are also available at the Mae Tao Clinic prosthetic department, and within refugee camps at prosthetics workshops run by Handicap International.[110]

[1 ] The military junta ruling the country changed the name from Burma to Myanmar. Many ethnic groups within the country still prefer to use the name Burma. In this report, Myanmar is used when referring to the policies and practices of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), and Burma is used otherwise. State and division names are given in their common form, or with the SPDC designation in parentheses, for example, Karenni (Kayah) state.
[2 ] Explanation of Vote by the Myanmar delegation on the draft resolution on “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling. Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on their Destruction” (A.C.1/60/L.56), undated, but 28 October 2005. The remarks were made after the vote on the resolution in the UNGA First Committee. The remarks were very similar to comments made in 1999 and before.
[3] UN Commission on Human Rights, “Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar,” interim report of the Special Rapporteur, A/60/221, 12 August 2005, Paragraph 77, p. 17.
[4 ] Over the years, the military junta has rarely responded to Landmine Monitor requests, but ongoing internal confusion, especially with the sudden movement of most of the civil service to an off-limits and unfinished administrative center, has complicated matters. However, the military junta has felt a need to respond to increasing concern over mine warfare within the country. In May 2006, a delegation of diplomats and journalists was taken to see mine survivors in a hospital in Bago division by the Minister for Information, General Kyaw Hsan, who stated that, “Because of mines laid by the Karen National Union (KNU), a large number of people have lost lives and limbs...the government does not favor war. That is why it is taking security measures.” “Landmines claim more victims as Myanmar fighting rages,” Agence France-Presse (Mone, Burma), 14 May 2006.
[5] Meeting of ICBL campaigners and National League for Democracy Chairperson U. Aung Shwe and Secretary U. Lwin, Yangon, 23 March 2006.
[6 ] Democratic Voice of Burma, 31 December 2005 (20:00-21:00 Burmese time), and 1 January 2006 (12:00-13:00 Burmese time).
[7 ] Halt Mine Use in Burma is an ICBL campaign launched in mid-2003 to encourage all combatants in Burma to agree to stop using antipersonnel mines for humanitarian reasons and as a confidence-building measure toward a nationwide cease-fire and a total landmine ban. New ministers, all 13 members of the ruling military junta, the political opposition, UN agencies, and international and national NGOs within the country received copies of the report. Many individuals and organizations helped with the distribution.
[8 ] In February 2006, copies of the Landmine Monitor report in Burmese and English languages were shipped to the National League for Democracy office in Yangon, but were seized during Customs inspection from carrier DHL. Requests to the carrier to identify the fate of the reports, the name of the Myanmar official who had seized the material, and the relevant law or regulation, went unanswered.
[9] This 2005 DVD documentary has footage from the Burma-Thai and Burma-China borders, including footage of non-state armed groups identifying mine types to a Landmine Monitor researcher.
[10 ] Myanmar produces the MM1, which is modeled on the Chinese Type 59 stake-mounted fragmentation mine, the MM2, which is similar to the Chinese Type 58 blast mine, and a Claymore-type directional fragmentation mine.
[11 ] Information obtained from a confidential source. It is the first reference Landmine Monitor has seen to Military Heavy Industries, and its relationship to Myanmar Defense Products Industries is not known.
[12 ] See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 938. The mines include: Chinese Types 58, 59, 69, 72A; Soviet POMZ-2, POMZ-2M, PMN, PMD-6; US M-14, M-16A1, M-18; and Indian/British LTM-73, LTM-76.
[13 ] See Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 679. See also photographic evidence circulated by electronic mail list of the Free Burma Rangers, 5 February 2006.
[14 ] Email from NGO working in the Thai-Burma border area, 20 March 2006.
[15 ] Free Burma Rangers, “Update: 300 villagers still in hiding,” 6 December 2005.
[16 ] UN Commission on Human Rights, “Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar,” Report of the Special Rapporteur, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, E/CN.4/2006/34, 7 February 2006, paragraph 104, p. 23.
[17 ] Free Burma Rangers, “Update on IDP Situation – Nyaunglebin District,” 23 November 2005.
[18 ] Email from FBR, 9 March 2006.
[19] Human Rights Watch, Press Release, “Burma: U.N. Must Act to End Attacks on Karen, Army Uses Landmines to Prevent Civilians from Fleeing Conflict,” New York, 3 May 2006.
[20] “KNU claims mines planted in division close to Pyinmana,” Irrawaddy Online Edition, 2 February 2006, www.irrawaddy.org.
[21 ] The SPDC previously listed the status of its peace efforts with various non-state armed groups within the country on the national website, but discontinued this practice in 2005. The last listing was in 2004: www.myanmar.com/peace/other4.html.
[22 ] The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) has estimated the number of armed non-state combatants at 45,000. IISS, The Military Balance 2005-2006, (London: Routledge, October 2005), pp. 430-431.
[23 ] Thailand Burma Border Consortium, “Internal Displacement and Protection in Eastern Burma,” October 2005, p. 60.
[24 ] “Burma’s Killing Fields,” The Irrawaddy, September 2005, pp. 10-11.
[25] “The Politics of Peace,” The Irrawaddy, November 2005, pp. 8-10.
[26] Email from Anki Sjöberg, Geneva Call, 27 June 2006.
[27] Interview with development organization working in Shan state, 11 January 2006.
[28 ] Interview with CNA battalion commander and other insurgents, Delhi, 27 October 2005.
[29 ] Interview with development organization working in Shan state, 11 January 2006. Prior to this, if villagers wished to hunt in the mountains or visit relatives in villages on the other side of the border, they did so freely.
[30] Free Burma Rangers, “SPDC and DKBA Guilty of Abuses,” by email, 4 November 2005, www.freeburmarangers.org, accessed July 13 2006.
[31 ] Landmine Monitor has previously noted allegations of use by the Karenni State Nationalities People’s Liberation Front, Karenni National Solidarity Front, Kayin New Land Party and All Burma Students Democratic Front. None of these groups have renounced mine use, but it is not certain if they used mines in this reporting period.
[32 ] The Hongsawatoi Restoration Party, People’s Defense Forces and a cluster of smaller organizations have essentially ceased to exist. The New Mon State Party, also previously identified as a mine user, has denied recent use, but has not renounced use and earlier admitted to having a stockpile of mines.
[33 ] Landmine Monitor communications with former members of the Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO), various locations, 2004.
[34] Interview with members of former rebel groups National United Party of Arakan (NUPA) and the Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO) in Bangkok, November 2005.
[35 ] Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG), “Report from the Field,” KHRG #2005-F3, 22 March 2005, www.khrg.org/khrg2005/khrg05f3.html.
[36] Interview with a KNU leader, 10 March 2006.
[37] “Manipuri rebels landmines kill Kuki tribesmen in NW Burma,” Democratic Voice of Burma, 23 November 2005.
[38 ] Interview with a development organization working in Shan state, 11 January 2006.
[39 ] See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 939.
[40 ] Ibid, pp. 939-940.
[41] About a dozen armed organizations have agreed verbally to cease hostilities with the SPDC. Although frequently referred to as “cease-fire groups,” none have signed a formal cease-fire protocol leading to a negotiated settlement. All maintain their arms, including any stockpile of antipersonnel landmines.
[42 ] Karen (Kayin) state, Karenni (Kayah) state, southern Shan state and Tenasserim (Tanintharyi) division contain the most heavily mine-affected areas. A large minefield is in Rakine state, running the length of the land border with Bangladesh. Some known mined areas exist in Pegu (Bago) division, and Mon, Chin and Kachin states.
[43 ] Chin, Kachin, Karen (Kayin), Karenni (Kayah), Mon, Shan and Rakine states and the Pegu (Bago) and Tenasserium (Tanintharyi) divisions. See Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 565.
[44] See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 944.
[45 ] The areas reported to be contaminated in past Landmine Monitor reports remain so. See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, pp. 940-941; Landmine Monitor Report 2003, pp. 565-566.
[46 ] Interview with insurgents, Delhi, India, 27 October 2005.
[47] Ibid.
[48 ] Interviews with UN field staff, Yangon, February 2005.
[49 ] Interview with Thailand-based journalist, January 2006.
[50 ] Kultidda Samabuddhi, “New calls to scrap dam after geologist loses leg,” Bangkok Post, 5 May 2006.
[51 ] The information comes from numerous reports published on the civil war and reports on the situation of IDPs, most recently in ‘Daming [sic] at Gunpoint’, Karen Rivers Watch, pp. 2, 32, 53-4; FBR, “An appreciation of the IDP situation from the relief team leader in the field,” 27 January 2006; email from an NGO working on Thailand-Burma border, 20 March 2006.
[52] ‘Daming [sic] at Gunpoint’, Karen Rivers Watch, pp. 32, 53-54.
[53 ] Human Rights Watch Asia, “Burma: UN must act to end attacks on Karen – army uses landmines to prevent civilians from fleeing conflict,” www.hrw.org, accessed 3 May 2006.
[54 ] “2,000 refugees from Myanmar flee to Thailand after renewed conflict,” UNHCR, Bangkok, 24 May 2006.
[55 ] Thailand Burma Border Consortium, “Internal Displacement and Protection in Eastern Burma,” Bangkok, October 2005. Landmine Monitor contributed some questions to the survey. The report assessed patterns of insecurity through cluster sampling of 1,044 households from 60 clusters spread across six states and divisions of Burma, with a relatively even distribution between households in hiding sites, cease-fire areas, relocation areas designated by the SPDC and mixed administration areas.
[56] “Landmines also help protect us against the SPDC soldiers destroying our paddy barns and crops and stealing things. If a landmine explodes when they are on their way, it disrupts them because they have to carry the injured person back to town for medical treatment.” Comment made during a focus group discussion in a mixed administration area, Papun district, Karen state, May 2005; Thailand Burma Border Consortium, “Internal Displacement and Protection in Eastern Burma,” Bangkok, October 2005, p. 56.
[57 ] Some NSAGs and the Tatmadaw (regular Myanmar Army forces) have previously reported conducting military demining. In some cases, NSAGs remove SPDC mines and re-use them.
[58 ] International Labor Conference 93rd Session 2005, “Report of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations, Report III (Part 1A),” 31 May-16 June 2005, International Labor Organization (ILO), Geneva, pp. 175-176; “ILO criticizes Myanmar for failing to tackle forced labour,” Agence France-Presse (Geneva), 25 May 2005.
[59 ] FBR, “Pictures from Karen State, Burma,” February 2005, by email, 9 March 2005.
[60 ] KHRG, “Report from the field,” 9 December 2005, p. 5.
[61 ] Images Asia Production, “Burma’s Hidden Killers,” Thailand, 2005; Burma Issues/FTUB, “Prison to Frontline: Portering for the SPDC’s Troops,” Thailand, 2004; Burma Issues/Witness Production, “Entrenched Abuse: Forced Labor in Burma,” Thailand, 2004. Interviews for the latter two films were conducted in late 2003 in Karen and Karenni states, and in border areas of Thailand.
[62 ] KHRG, “Report from the field,” 22 March 2005. Pyitthu Sit or “People’s Militia” are recruited from villages and given training and weapons by the military. Each village is required to make monthly payments to their Pyitthu Sit, who are expected to guard against insurgent entry to their villages.
[63 ] See also Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 941.
[64] Interview with insurgents, New Delhi, India, 27 October 2005.
[65] Thailand Burma Border Consortium, “Internal Displacement and Protection in Eastern Burma,” October 2005, p. 57; comment made during a focus group discussion with IDPs in hiding from the Army, Pasaung township, Karenni state, May 2005.
[66 ] Shanti Sena was founded in February 2005 with support from private individuals in Japan to undertake humanitarian activities within Karen state; it has conducted MRE in villages near the Thailand-Burma border.
[67 ] ICRC, “Special Report Mine Action 2005,” Geneva, May 2006, p. 14.
[68 ] Interview with ICRC official, Yangon, November 2005.
[69 ] For examples of previous MRE efforts, see Landmine Monitor Report 2005, pp. 684-685.
[70 ] Confidential interview by Landmine Monitor, 12 January 2006.
[71 ] FBR, “Pictures from Karen State, Burma,” February 2005, by email, 9 March 2005.
[72 ] See Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 685.
[73 ] Letter in response to a request for information from Landmine Monitor, ICRC Bangkok Regional Delegation, 27 March 2006.
[74 ] Interview with Dr. Cynthia Maung, Director, and with Manager for Prosthetic and Orthotic Department, Mae Tao Clinic, Tak, 8 March 2006; email to Landmine Monitor from Somsak Thanaborikon, Field Coordinator, International Rescue Committee (IRC), Mae Sot, 10 March 2006.
[75 ] Response to Landmine Monitor VA Questionnaire from Sumeth Napawetchakol, Prosthetic Technician, Srisangwal Hospital, Mae Hong Son, 14 March 2006.
[76 ] “Landmines claim more victims as Myanmar fighting rages,” Agence France-Presse (Mone, Burma), 14 May 2006.
[77] Email from Paul Yon, Manager, HI-Thailand, 24 May 2006.
[78 ] Interview with Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People (CIDKP), Mae Sot, 9 May 2005.
[79 ] FBR, “Burma Army Landmines and Forced Labor in Toungoo District,” by email, 16 May 2005.
[80 ] See Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 685.
[81 ] Confidential interview by Landmine Monitor, 12 January 2006.
[82 ] “Two Karen men killed by Burma Army landmines,” FBR Update, by email, 25 November 2005.
[83 ] FBR, “Message from a relief team at the burned village of Hee Daw Kaw,” by email, 11 January 2006.
[84] “Manipuri rebels landmines kill Kuki tribesmen in NW Burma,” Democratic Voice of Burma, 23 November 2005.
[85 ] Interview with Subin Kuenkaew, Journalist, Bangkok Post, Chiang Mai, 10 January 2006.
[86 ] Email from NGO working on Thailand-Burma border, 20 March 2006.
[87 ] Interview with Dr. Cynthia Maung and with Manager for Prosthetic and Orthotic Department, Mae Tao Clinic, Tak, 8 March 2006; email from Somsak Thanaborikon, IRC, 10 March 2006; email from Imbert Matthee, Clear Path International, 1 May 2006.
[88 ] Email from NGO working on Thailand-Burma border, 20 March 2006.
[89 ] Confidential interview by Landmine Monitor, 7 March 2006.
[90 ] “Karen relief worker killed by landmine,” Mizzima News, 8 May 2006.
[91 ] “Landmines claim more victims as Myanmar fighting rages,” Agence France-Presse (Mone, Burma), 14 May 2006.
[92 ] “Myanmar man killed in landmine blast near convoy,” Agence France-Presse (Penewegon, Burma), 13 May 2006.
[93 ] Dennis D. Gray, “More Karen refugees poised to enter Thailand in wake of Myanmar offensive,” Associated Press (Bangkok), 2 May 2006.
[94] Kultidda Samabuddhi, “New call to scrap dams after geologist loses leg,” Bangkok Post, 5 May 2006.
[95 ] ICRC data for prosthetics through its joint programs with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Defense. Combined data in ICRC annual reports: 2002 (70 percent), 2003 (70 percent), 2004 (73 percent) and 2005 (70 percent).
[96 ] See Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 685.
[97 ] After being rated 190 out of 191 countries by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2000, the ruling authorities reportedly increased expenditure on public health from 1.8 percent to 2.8 percent of GDP by 2003. The average per capita expenditure on healthcare was $US94 ($134 in 1999). WHO, “Core Health Indicators, Myanmar,” www.who.int, accessed 22 May 2006.
[98 ] ICRC Physical Rehabilitation Program, “Annual Report 2005,” Geneva, draft received 19 May 2006, p. 23.
[99] ICRC, “Annual Report 2005,” 1 June 2006, pp. 170-171.
[100 ] “Aid Agency To Withdraw from Burma,” The Irrawaddy, January 2006, p. 6.
[101] See Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 686.
[102] Interview with Saw Hla Henry, Secretary-General, CIDKP, Mae Sot, 7 March 2006.
[103 ] Interview with Yuko Yokotobi, Country Representative, AAR-J, Yangon, 20 March 2006.
[104] Information provided by confidential source; US Department of State, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2005: Burma,” Washington DC, 8 March 2006.
[105] See Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 687.
[106] Mobility International USA, “WHO Disability and Rehabilitation Progamme,” www.miusa.org, accessed 29 April 2006.
[107 ] See Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 686.
[108 ] Interview with Dr. Cynthia Maung and with Manager for Prosthetic and Orthotic Department, Mae Tao Clinic, Tak, 8 March 2006; email from Somsak Thanaborikon, IRC, 10 March 2006.
[109] “Hopkins intercedes in Burmese fight for health,” The Johns Hop